Two massive, broadly humanoid robots battling to the death sounds more like the plotline for a Hollywood movie than real life. In fact, it sounds remarkably like 2011 Hugh Jackman vehicle Real Steel. However, it’s about to become reality – except the Hugh Jackman part.
Next year, Mark II, a robot built by California-based Megabots Inc, will take on a Japanese contender, a Kuratas robot (below) made by Suidobashi Heavy Industries, after the US firm challenged its Japanese counterpart to a robot battle royale. On paper Mark II should have the physical edge – it stands 15ft to Kuratas’ 13ft – but experts argue that the Japanese robot has the technical edge.
Even Megabots’ co-founder Matt Oehrlein agrees. “Our current robot, the Mark II (pictured below), looks pretty intimidating. The truth is, it’s pretty slow. It’s top-heavy. It’s rusty, and it needs a set of armour upgrades to be able to compete in hand-to-hand combat.”
So, if the robot isn’t ready, why did Megabots issue their almighty metallic challenge? They are hoping that next year’s fight will be the beginning of new sport/entertainment hybrid, with teams from all over the world soon developing robots to throw into the arena. They also hope that the thrill of robot fighting will encourage more people into engineering. It may even lead to new technologies or applications being invented.
“People want to see these things fight. They want to see them punch each other, they want to see them ripped apart and they want to be entertained,” stated Oehrlein.
His co-founder, robotics engineer Gui Cavalcanti added: “We want to bring the giant robots from science fiction and movies and video games to life because now we have the technology. It’s really about: how do we put on the best show? How do we make the coolest fight?”
The answer: challenge the best in the world. Japan is at the cutting edge of robotics. Kogoro Kurata, founder of Suidobashi Heavy Industries, was more than happy to accept the Americans’ challenge: “We can’t let another country win this. Giant robots are Japanese culture. Yeah, I’ll fight. Absolutely.”
Watch Megabots make their challenge here.
The date and location of the giant robot smack down has yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, Megabots Inc. has launched a Kickstarter campaign to make sure that Mark II is in the best possible shape to fight. Both robots are piloted, with the user sitting in the pilot seat located in the body area of the robots. Mark II seats two pilots and Kuratas one.
The aim of the battle is clear – to revolutionise the sports world: “Get ready to witness the most epic sports entertainment that the world has ever seen: nation-on-nation robot combat. Multi-ton behemoths will swing punches, tearing steel armour panels off each other until one mech is left standing, while the opponent is left a heap of scrap metal. Welcome to the future of sports.”
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